Ezekiel 38: Gog, Magog, and God

By Richard Young | Posted August 02, 2022

Years ago, some students of Bible prophecy were certain that the former Soviet Union would play a major role in last-day events. Identifying the communist behemoth with the Old Testament powers of Gog and Magog (Ezekiel 38–39), they believed that it was going to attack Israel. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, that identification quietly fell away—that is, until now.

One doesn’t have to be a diligent student of end-time Bible events to look around at the world and think, “Wow! We are living in exactly the kind of times the Bible has warned about.” The people of the world have been hit with increasing natural disasters, pestilence, political turmoil, and “wars and rumors of wars” (Matthew 24:6), just as the Bible has predicted.

Earlier this year, on February 24, 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine; the world got a lot messier. That ongoing war, which reached its 100th day on June 3, does not look like it’s going to end soon. 

Then, on July 19, Russian President Vladimir Putin took a “rare international trip to Iran,” causing a flurry of media activity, including this CBN News article entitled, “Are the Biblical End Times Upon Us? The Shocking Russia-Iran Moment That Just Caused Ezekiel 38 to Trend on Social Media.” 

Gog and Magog

So how in the world did these Bible students conclude that Gog and Magog represented Russia? Proponents of this view hinge on the assumption that the current nation-state of Israel and the hostile nations around it remain the focal point of end-time events. As follows, of deep interest to these scholars are Israel’s wars.

In a nutshell, Ezekiel 38 identifies a certain foe of Israel as “Gog, of the land of Magog” (v. 2): “Therefore, son of man, prophesy and say to Gog, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “On that day when My people Israel dwell safely, will you not know it? Then you will come from your place out of the far north, you and many peoples with you, all of them riding on horses, a great company and a mighty army. You will come up against My people Israel like a cloud, to cover the land. It will be in the latter days that I will bring you against My land, so that the nations may know Me, when I am hallowed in you, O Gog, before their eyes”’” (vv. 14–16).

And since, soon after modern Israel’s inception as a nation-state in 1948, the Soviet Union became one of Israel’s main antagonists and is geographically in “a straight line north of Israel,” these Bible scholars posited that “Magog” stands for the Soviet Union itself and “Gog” for a great leader of the Soviet Union. In fact, book after book has been written from this viewpoint. 

There were even predictions that Iran, a long-established enemy of Israel, would join the fray. Author Joel C. Rosenberg claimed in a blog post in 2015: “The Hebrew prophet Ezekiel wrote 2,500 years ago that in the ‘last days’ of history, Russia and Iran will form a military alliance to attack Israel from the north. Bible scholars refer to this eschatological conflict, described in Ezekiel 38-39, as the ‘War of Gog & Magog.’”

No wonder, then, that some are on the edges of their seats at a Russian leader’s excursion to Israel’s foremost aggressor in the Middle East.

On the Other Hand

Not all students of Bible prophecy, however, buy into this interpretation of Ezekiel 38.

For starters, post-Soviet Russia is not a known enemy of Israel. On the contrary, today’s Russia sees Israel as an ally against the common threat of Islamic terrorism. And no nation in the world right now supports Islamic terrorism more than the Iranians do. 

All this, of course, could change. Putin’s recent visit to Iran was touted by The Washington Post as “a show of deepening ties between the two nations, united in their isolation from the West.” Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s press secretary, was quoted as saying “that improving relations with Iran was ‘a long-term line of our foreign policy.’”

But earthly politics still does not negate the second, more foundational issue. There are Old Testament prophecies, of which the Gog and Magog of Ezekiel 38 is one, which are conditional; that is, they are prophecies which would have happened had other events taken place. If the nation of Israel would have remained faithful to their covenant obligations, Ezekiel 38 and 39 would have occurred. But Israel did not remain faithful; they forsook God. Thus, the conditional prophecy did not take place.

The Bible actually records when Israel broke their covenant with God; the nation of Israel removed itself from representing God’s people on this earth. It was then that literal Israel became Spiritual Israel. Learn all about the significance of this progression in our free online resource. 

Following this viewpoint would mean that events in and surrounding the literal nation-state of Israel are not crucial to the last days. However, it is not unbiblical to think that Gog and Magog are.

The apocalyptic book of Revelation plainly prophesies: “Now when the thousand years have expired, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle, whose number is as the sand of the sea” (20:7, 8). The difference is that these names are symbols. Take a look at the wondrous significance of this battle to end all battles in “Bound in the Abyss.” Discover who the real enemy is in the end times. 

Richard Young
Richard Young is a writer for Amazing Facts International and other online and print publications.

When you post, you agree to the terms and conditions of our comments policy.

If you have a Bible question for Pastor Doug Batchelor or the Amazing Facts Bible answer team, please submit it by clicking here. Due to staff size, we are unable to answer Bible questions posted in the comments.
To help maintain a Christian environment, we closely moderate all comments.

  1. Please be patient. We strive to approve comments the day they are made, but please allow at least 24 hours for your comment to appear. Comments made on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday may not be approved until the following Monday.

  2. Comments that include name-calling, profanity, harassment, ridicule, etc. will be automatically deleted and the invitation to participate revoked.

  3. Comments containing URLs outside the family of Amazing Facts websites will not be approved.

  4. Comments containing telephone numbers or email addresses will not be approved.

  5. Comments off topic may be deleted.

  6. Please do not comment in languages other than English.

Please note: Approved comments do not constitute an endorsement by the ministry of Amazing Facts or by Pastor Doug Batchelor. This website allows dissenting comments and beliefs, but our comment sections are not a forum for ongoing debate.